Applications and adaptations of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for adolescents

Amanda E. Hailburton & Lee D. Cooper

 Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an emerging cognitive-behavioral therapy that uses mindfulness, acceptance and other skills to treat psychological problems. ACT differs from traditional cognitive-behavioral therapy (tCBT) in some ways, but the two therapies share several similarities. Though ACT has some empirical support when used with adults, there is very sparse literature to date on using ACT with adolescents. This review will discuss the state of the field with regard to using ACT with adolescents with a special focus on developmental adaptations and considerations that could enhance cognitive-behavioral treatment of this population. Ten studies that utilized multiple or all ACT components with adolescents are the focus of this review. The review will explore adaptations that are currently used in ACT research with adolescents, considerations that have been suggested but were not implemented in these studies, and other adolescent problems that could potentially be ameliorated with the use of ACT techniques. The review will conclude with a discussion of salient methodological and assessment-related limitations, suggestions for choosing whether ACT might be appropriate for use with adolescent clients, and ideas for future research on using ACT with adolescents.

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